RICHMOND —  The comfortable lead wasn’t so comfortable any longer.

After a strong start and double-digit advantage in the first half, the Rangeley girls’ basketball team watched it dwindle in a hurry. Unbeaten Richmond closed the gap to just one point in the third quarter and seemingly had turned the momentum.

Then the Lakers hit a shot, and another and another. Before the Bobcats knew it, Rangeley found the hot shooting hand and scored 14 of the next 16 points that broke open the game for a 54-38 win Friday.

The previously unbeaten Bobcats (12-1) were the top-ranked team in Western D while Rangeley (12-2) was second.

“It’s pretty exciting,” said junior Emily Carrier, whose team lost to Richmond by two in overtime earlier in the year. “It definitely made the season, but we’re just going game-by-game right now.”

Richmond scored six straight points to open the third quarter and had the lead down to 25-24. Rangeley countered with the shooting touch that helped ignite the early lead in the first quarter. The Lakers hit eight of their last 10 shots in the quarter during an 18-5 run.

“When we’re scoring, all the girls are pumped up and everybody wants to be part of it,” said junior Chantal Carrier.

Chantal Carrier led the Lakers with 24 points, 15 rebounds and five steals. Her twin sister Emily added 14 points while Sierra Marchacos chipped in nine. Richmond got nine each from Brooke Lancaster and Tara Hurley but struggled to find consistency on offense. After shooting just 2-for-11 in the first quarter, the Bobcats went 8-for-25 in the second half.

“We couldn’t get our heads going in the right direction at the beginning,” said Richmond coach Molly Bishop. “They beat us out rebounding, and after that, they shot the lights out.”

Richmond was behind by as many as 12 in the first half but was down 25-18 at the half. Baskets by Lancaster, Tara Hurley and Alyssa Pearson closed the gap to one point. Rangeley missed its first four shots to open the second half.

“We knew we had to keep playing hard and play tough defense,” said Emily Carrier.

She hit the Lakers first basket with 5:54 left in the third and then drilled a 3. Marchacos followed with a 3 of her own and the lead was suddenly back to 33-24. After a Lancaster 3, Chantal Carrier hit a pair of baskets and Marchacos hit a jumper to make it 39-27. Both Carrier’s scored to end the quarter with a 43-29 advantage.

“We’ve spent a lot of time this year shooting,” said Rangeley coach Heidi Deery. “Some nights it shows. Some nights it doesn’t. It seems like we’re streaky. When one person starts hitting then everybody starts hitting them.”

The Lakers jumped out to a quick start with six straight and had the lead up to 18-5 after a 12-0 run ended the quarter.

“We thought we had to come out with confidence and play with a lot of intensity,” said Chantal Carrier. “We like to come out on top early. It’s better for us if we’re leading at the beginning. It helps keep our intensity up.”

Rangeley shot 6-for-12 in the first quarter but were 3-for-12 in the second and had seven turnovers. That allowed Richmond to settle in and trim the lead.

“We came out of the gates well and came to play,” said Deery. “The last game we played them, we hung in there and lost by two in overtime. We had a lead early in that game, but our composure wasn’t what it should have been.”

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